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'Kousalya Krishnamurthy' review: Aishwarya Rajesh repeats her 'Kanaa' act in a predictable outing

Aishwarya Rajesh and Rajendra Prasad   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

It’s not easy to make a sports drama that feels new and fresh. As underdog stories go, there are bound to be some common tropes unless the writer and director watch out. Jersey, which released this summer, is an example of how a sports drama can excel without falling into the trap of being repetitive.

Portions of Kousalya Krishnamurthy feel like a throwback to a bunch of earlier sports films. In a small hamlet, a parent is so addicted to cricket that it inspires the young offspring to pursue the sport (remember Nagesh Kukunoor’s Iqbal?), a father shuts up those who have a problem with his daughter wearing masculine clothes and playing a sport with men (Dangal), a former player whose career has been cut short is brought back from hibernation to coach an unruly team for the World Cup (Chak de! India)...

Director Bhimaneni Srinivasa Rao who is known for his remakes, this time chooses the Tamil film Kanaa (dream), written and directed by Arunraj Kamaraj. He keeps the story intact and infuses it with a native flavour for the Telugu audience.

Kousalya Krishnamurthy
  • Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh, Rajendra Prasad, Jhansi
  • Direction: Bhimaneni Srinivasa Rao

As a child, Kousalya watches her father Krishnamurthy (Rajendra Prasad) tracking every major cricket match and being terribly upset when India loses. She dreams of growing up and winning matches for India to make her father happy.

In the Iragavaram village where they stay, cricket is not a sport for girls. So she watches older boys playing and soon, they begin coaching her. They are all anna (brother) to her and there’s a protective and mentoring stance with which they train her in bowling.

As the girl grows up (enter Aishwarya Rajesh) and emerges as a bowler to reckon with, there’s the parallel story of her father. Agriculturists Krishnamurthy and his wife (Jhansi) struggle to repay their mounting debts. When a local MLA eyes their land and bank managers taunt them about repaying the loan, you know which way the story is headed.

Meanwhile, Kousalya has to prove her worth in the national camp, facing caustic remarks from a few team members. Help comes in the form of the new coach (Sivakarthikeyan in an extended cameo).

When the story remains predictable, it’s the actors who shoulder the film. Aishwarya Rajesh’s is a strong, committed and moving portrayal. Jhansi, as the mother who doesn’t want her daughter to play cricket with the boys, comes up with another affecting performance, after Mallesham. She matches a consummate actor like Rajendra Prasad at every step. Vennela Kishore, ‘Rangasthalam’ Mahesh and Karthik Raju feature in smaller parts, cheering Kousalya in her endeavour.

The build up to the finale is cliched and when Kousalya delivers that speech about agriculture, the only reason why there will be a few moist eyes in the hall is because of the credible performances by Aishwarya, Rajendra Prasad and Jhansi.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 6:09:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/kousalya-krishnamurthy-aishwarya-rajesh-excels-in-this-sports-drama-that-has-a-sense-of-deja-vu/article29231289.ece

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